Most of us have heard about the basic checklist for romantic compatibility and connection; factors such as religion, sex, family and money. These items take center stage and we put all of our attention and focus on making sure that they are in line. But what happens when we have those “check marks” but are still struggling in our relationship? Ask yourself the 10 questions below to start addressing the heart of the matter:
1. Are you so good to your partner that he/she never wants to leave?
Remember when you met your mate and felt a strong desire toward him or her? That’s because this person is desirable, both to you and to others. When we aren’t getting our needs met, our minds (and sometimes our bodies) can wander in order to get them fulfilled. When you commit to treating your partner better than anyone else ever could, you solidify your bond and prevent outside intrusion.
2. Who are you in it for?
Partnership is not for the faint of heart. It takes a dedication to selflessness (most of the time) and a desire to be in the relationship in order to take care of your mate (not the other way around). Why make such a commitment? Because it pays dividends like you’ve never even imagined. Cliché as it may sound, giving is the best form of getting.
3. Can you take the heat?
In a long-term relationship, many disagreements will occur. Your ability to listen, apologize and accept critiques and responsibility will be paramount. Are you open to setting your ego aside for the sake of the dynamic? Can you handle the idea of addressing your flaws? Showing this level of maturity signals that you honor your partnership more than your need to be right.
4. Are you willing to get comfortable with being uncomfortable?
In order to break down barriers and really address core issues, you will need to have those difficult, potentially stress-inducing conversations. The tendency to avoid them for the sake of the short term will greatly damage the relationship in the long term. Building a tolerance for being uncomfortable will allow you to forge a new path of honest communication and develop solutions to these roadblocks. Think of this process like a flu shot; you get a little bit of the toxin in the moment, in order to build a tolerance and boost your immune system (AKA the relationship) down the road.
5. Have you laid out your deal breakers?
Painful as it is to accept, romantic love is rarely unconditional. Every partner has (and is entitled to) their limits and when pushed to them, his or her desire to stay in the relationship can be dramatically reduced. Be honest about what will and won’t work for you in order to create an understanding of the boundaries needed to keep the connection strong and intact.
6. Are you willing to accept that the achievement of a "successful relationship" directly relates to the level of effort you each put in?
Happiness doesn’t magically happen. You have to make it happen, every day and for the rest of your lives, because there's no end point or finish line. When you understand this fact, your relationship really starts to bloom.
7. Have you built your walls?
Couples are challenged almost daily to remain engaged and attracted to their partners simply by stepping out the front door. Co-workers, friends, acquaintances and chance meetings are always lingering and can pose a threat unless you and your mate have developed strategies to withstand them, before they happen. Will you agree to introduce your friends to your partner to reduce temptation? Will you decide to implement a "no flirtation" policy with others? The specifics will be determined by what is realistic and manageable for each of you. Talk about it to create (and stick to) your battle plan!
8. Are you honest about your sexual needs?
Too often, partners go without what they truly desire, and it significantly impacts the quality of the relationship and the desire to sexually engage. Sex certainly isn’t the only aspect of a connection, but it's important and must be tended to. You do your mate no favors by holding back. Talking about what you want will not only increase the likelihood of getting your needs met but it’s also a great way to inject novelty into your sexual dynamic. Long term, that “newness” will serve you very well.
9. Do you ask anything of your mate that you aren’t willing to give?
Hypocrisy breeds resentment. Make sure that your requests are not only reasonable, but that you ultimately give as much (and the same) as you ask for in return.
10. Are you willing to play on the same team even if you’re losing the game?
As an individual, you have the freedom to make decisions at your own discretion. When you become part of a couple you are only 50% of the equation. Having the ability to be flexible, support and go along with what’s important to your partner (even when you disagree), will make a tremendous difference in the quality of your connection and the goodwill you generate toward one another.
Finished asking yourself these questions? Pass them along to your mate and really start an interesting dialogue!